News and STORIES

New Chair Appointed At Woodbine

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Monday September 21, 2020

The Canadian firm, Woodbine Entertainment Group, have announced the appointment of a new chair. Christine Magee is taking over the position, from the retiring Clay Horner, with immediate effect.

Who Is the Woodbine Entertainment Group?

The Woodbine Entertainment Group is a well-known name to all Canadian horse race goers. The group owns the Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. The racetrack - for thoroughbred horse racing - hosts Canada's most prestigious horse race: The Queen's Plate.

To put this into context for non-Canadians: think in terms of Aintree (The Grand National) in the UK; the USA’s Churchill Downs (The Kentucky Derby) or Flemington Racecourse (The Melbourne Cup) in Australia.

Earlier this month, Mighty Heart claimed victory in the 161st running of The Queen’s Plate.

Although now known as Woodbine Entertainment Group, their original name is the Ontario Jockey Club. The club began its life in 1881; when the inaugural Queen’s Plate horse race ran at “The Woodbine” on July 1st 1881.

However, on 12th June 1956, the old Woodbine track was put out to pasture. The old “leaky roof” circuit, as it was known, made way for a new ultra-modern racing facility in Toronto. Many people attribute the transformation of Canada's horse racing industry to the move.

At the turn of the Millenium, the Woodbine opened a giant casino, with over 1,700 (now over 3,000) slot machines. A year later, to better reflect its diverse portfolio, the Ontario Jockey Club changed its name to the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

The Future

Christine Magee, at the time of Woodbine's diversification into a casino giant of Canada, was also making a name for herself in business.

In 1994, she co-founded Sleep Country and served as its President until November 2014. A year later, she joined Woodbine Entertainment’s Board of Directors. In addition, she became a member of the Order of Canada in 2015. This is in recognition of her contributions to the Canadian business community.

Unsurprisingly, Woodbine is delighted with the appointment of Magee to the position of Chair. They issued a media statement on Friday 18th September 2020, to announce her appointment.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Christine’s business acumen, experience and leadership (to) be the Chair of our Board of Directors while we continue to grow the sport of horse racing” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment.

Lawson went to add that the Woodbine Entertainment Group's plans to further diversify would be helped by Magee's appointment. He highlighted her "invaluable" leadership to help sustain the horse racing industry over the next few decades.

Magee replied: “It’s an absolute honor and privilege to step into this role for an organization that has such a rich history and bright future."

Praise For The Outgoing Chair

Meanwhile, the outgoing Chair - Clay Horner - also received lots of praise for his tenure at Woodbine. Lawson was quick to thank him for advancing the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

“Over the years, Clay’s contributions to Woodbine Entertainment are significant and widely appreciated by the entire horse racing industry in Ontario,” commented Lawson.

“His passion for the sport of horse racing and his experience in business and law has served the organization well."

Indeed, Horner is well-versed with the law. He possesses both a Bachelor of Arts from Queen's University and a Bachelor of Laws from University of Toronto - Law School. He was also a Senior Partner for Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

In response, Horner added: “My service on the Board has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life."

Horner also went on to thank all the many past and present board members and employees of Woodbine, whom he had worked with over the years. His list included special mentions for Lawson, David Willmot and Nick Eaves. The three men acted as CEOs during Horner’s chairing of Woodbine.

Another Move At Woodbine Entertainment Group

As well as the above positional change, the Woodbine Entertainment Group announced a further alteration to their managerial team.

This sees, long-time board member John Fielding retiring as the organization's Director and Chair of the Standardbred Racing Committee. Replacing Fielding as Chair is Hugh Mitchell. He is a current Woodbine Entertainment Director and former President of Western Fair District.